College football is demanding on 18-22 year olds, especially at the division one level and even moreso at the BCS level. However, despite being the starting quarterback at one of the best programs in the country, Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has decided to sign with the Boston Red Sox.
Though not unheard of, Driskel will be taking a chance in stunting his football development by playing this summer with the Red Sox. But it’s a path that multiple NFL players recently have taken, and continued to have NFL success. And Driskel will aim to follow in those footsteps after his time with the Red Sox is finished.
Alex Speier, a beat writer for the Boston Red Sox, broke the news late July 3rd night Driskel was a “surprise” 29th round draft pick, as he didn’t even know he was eligible for the MLB draft himself. After stating on twitter shortly after that he wouldn’t be joining the Boston Red Sox organization, Driskel seems to have changed his mind just month after his initial drafting.
The Red Sox are among a handful of teams who strongly consider drafting prospects from other sports (football in this case) in their annual 50 round draft. Last year, they drafted University of Washington linebackers Shaw Thompson and Arizona State linebacker Brandon Magee. Thompson ended up playing a handful of summer games for the team.
As for Driskel, this will be a unique opportunity for the one time high school baseball prospect to get a chance to potentially add a secondary career opportunity if the NFL doesn’t work out. Two years ago, Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 1st round. Now that his Clemson career has gone and the NFL was never an option, he’s become a member of the Rockies organization.
But that doesn’t mean Driskel needs to consider baseball if he signs this contract. Both Jake Locker (Angels) and Russell Wilson (Rockies) both were drafted and played baseball in their football off-season while in college, and they both ended up as eventual NFL starters. Other notable names that played in baseball while still in college include Riley Cooper (Phillies), Cedric Benson (Dodgers), Quan Cosby (Angels), and Dennis Dixon (Braves). And also, Pat White, who never was able to stick in the NFL as a quarterback, was drafted four times in the major league baseball draft throughout high school and college, and now is a member of the Miami Marlins minor league organization.
Set to be just a junior next year, the 6’3, 230 pound quarterback should have NFL aspirations. After an up and down sophomore season at Florida, he’ll have senior receiver Andre Debose, senior “offensive weapon” Trey Burton, and junior receiver Quinton Dunbar to develop with and potentially get Florida back into the SEC title contention this year.
Touted as the best high school quarterback in the country, Driskel landed at Florida with the intention of playing in Urban Meyer’s offense, but instead was forced into a Will Muschamp lead team that didn’t quite fit his skill set. Driskel faced injury issues that hampered his in-season development last year (ankle injury), but flashed the running ability, physical tools, and natural arm strength.
While his erratic ball placement down field, rushing reads and not dealing with pressure well enough, and ball security issues are a problem, his natural athleticism and talent, as well as composure as the season went on should bode well for his future. Driskel may have gone 29th round in the MLB draft, he’ll likely end up 25 rounds or more earlier in the 2014 or 2015 NFL Draft, whenever he decides to make the NFL jump. He’ll have a lot to prove in 2013 at Florida, and Will Muschamp and that fan base will be looking to Driskel to have that rebound season that they’ve been craving for since Meyer left.
Despite that pressure, Driskel will be taking his talents to the diamond, and has the chance to make an impression in baseball for the next few months. But baseball will end up being a unique summer experience and a cautionary backup, while his finishing his college football career and beginning his NFL one should still remain at the forefront of his mind.